Nine Questions with Jacob Navarro

Name: Jacob Navarro

Birthplace: Fort Bragg, California

Currently residing: Anacortes & Seattle Washington

Musical past and present in one rambling run-on sentence: I grew up listening and watching my parents perform in a belly dance troupe, lots of middle eastern percussion in the house as a child; took violin lessons at age 5 and switched to guitar at age 10, added the mandolin in my mid twenties; have been working with William Cook (upright bass, singer, songwriter, bad ass) for almost two decades now in various projects, our current one being Spoonshine; met Adam Kasper (produced Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Cat Power, REM, Queens of the Stone Age, many more) a few years ago and have been working with him ever since; in addition to spending most of my time gigging, recording, writing, and collaborating musically as much as possible, I’ve had a handful of tunes used on a Spike TV show about midget wrestlers & played mandolin on Eddie Vedder’s solo song “Better Days” for the movie soundtrack “Eat Pray Love”!


1. Who are some of your favourite composers, musicians and bands from the past and present?

Mark Knopfler, Tony Rice, Greg Brown, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Manu Chao, Neil Young, Tinariwen, Ali Farke Toure, Frank Zappa, Creedance, Doc Watson, The Band, Bob Dylan, JJ Cale, Jacob De Bandolim, Old Crow Medicine Show, Salif Kieta, Nirvana, Ray Charles, Wilco, Fela Kuti, Norman Blake, Woody Guthrie, Rachmaninoff, David Lindley, Balkan Beat Box, Bill Frisell, Brian Eno, Calexico, Hazmat Modine, Peter Rowan, The Raconteurs, Jimi Hendrix, Sade, John Prine, Led Zeppelin, Martha Scanlan, Ry Cooder, Townes Van Zandt, The Pogues, The Grateful Dead, etc…

2. Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?

So many to pick from! I think if I had to pick one, it would be “Walking In The West End” by Dire Straits. It’s not really the lyrics specifically, but that song makes me feel nostalgic, sentimental, and really good!

3. How would you describe your perfect day?

Honestly, here is my idea of a perfect day: Coffee and pancakes, followed by a long hike and a picnic in the woods.  Time spent with a really good book and a cup of tea. Eating a home cooked dinner and sharing a bottle of wine in the company of my family. Staying up all night playing music with good friends.

4. What would your friends say they appreciate the most about you?

He isn’t preoccupied by worrying about what others appreciate about him.

5. What is your most valued material possession?

I recently had quite a few of my instruments stolen, which made me rethink how much importance I put on my attachment to material possessions. However, my grandmother, Ida Abelman, was a remarkable artist during the 30’s and 40’s who’s work is part of the Smithsonian collection. She producing lithographs dealing with the social issues of her time, worker’s rights, child labor, women’s rights, immigration, industrialization, etc….. Our whole family has a very deep sense of pride in the art she contributed to the world. One of her prints that I have she wrote “for my dearest grandson, Jacob Navarro” on the bottom. The print is really dark, it’s called “my father reminisces”, and there is all this heavy imagery on it, there is a lot to it. It’s one of my most valued material possessions that is quite irreplaceable.

6. Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?

I met & played a private show for Mark Knopfler and his band once, that was the first time I have ever really felt stage fright. I don’t usually get star struck, people are just people, I hate the idea that being involved in the arts somehow elevates you above the blue-collar working class. I’d like to think we are all made of the same stuff. But I really look up to Mark Knopfler! So I felt fairly giddy going into this little room and meeting the guy, then playing some of our songs for him. He and his band were all very nice, and having him pour us a shot of irish whiskey and make a toast to us remains one of my high points.

7. If you could blink your eyes and be in a favourite place right now, where would that place be?

Not fair, there are so many incredible places to be…. Camping up on a mountain in the Olympic Rain Forest; no, eating pain au chocolate in the south of France; no, getting lost walking along the canals in Venice; no, eating Aglio Olio at Brad’s Swingside Cafe in Seattle; no, sitting on a sand dune in the heat of the summer in Sag Harbor, New York; playing music around a campfire in the Skagit Valley; no, I can’t do this game, the world is too full of awesome to pick one favorite place to be!

8. Is there something you would like to do more of in the future?

Music, backpacking, cooking, reading, etc…

9. Where would you like to find yourself in ten years?

Besides still being alive and well on the planet? Can’t be to picky, but I suppose I would like to find myself traveling a lot more in ten years.

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